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Deaths in New Zealand Lower than Expected during COVID-19 Pandemic

Wahyu Dwi Anggoro - 18 May 2022 13:00 WIB
Deaths in New Zealand Lower than Expected during COVID-19 Pandemic
The new StatsNZ figures provide a measure of the overall rate of deaths in New Zealand during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic years. (Photo: medcom.id)
Wellington: The New Zealand Government has welcomed the release today of StatsNZ data showing the rate at which New Zealanders died from all causes during the COVID-19 pandemic has been lower than expected.

The new StatsNZ figures provide a measure of the overall rate of deaths in New Zealand during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic years. 
It’s not a measure of people known to have died from COVID-19 and reflects all causes of deaths during this time.

Comparing the actual number of deaths in New Zealand since the start of the pandemic with the expected number of deaths during that period, based on earlier years’ figures, shows fewer deaths than expected.

"We recognise the pain of losing a family member or friend, and do not wish to diminish that, but it is welcome that this data, which is the best measure we have to date, shows there was not a higher-than-normal death rate in New Zealand over the first two years of the pandemic," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a press release on Wednesday.

"This reflected the benefits of our COVID-19 response in reducing exposure to the virus and protecting our more vulnerable New Zealanders and a decision to implement a nationwide response coordinated from the centre. Vaccination has played a key role, along with border and isolation measures, in keeping people safe from the more deadly variants of COVID-19 by keeping them out of the community or significantly limiting their spread," Hipkins explained.

The StatsNZ measures, in conjunction with previous research, indicate that:
  • In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, the proportion of people that died in New Zealand dropped for reasons including a reduction in accident-related deaths and the closed borders greatly reducing influenza and other respiratory in New Zealand in 2020.
  • In 2021, the second year of the pandemic, the rate of deaths followed a similar pattern to that seen in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, though deaths from COVID-19 were low.
  • In 2020 and 2021, the rate of deaths among people over-90-years-old, the population among the most at risk from COVID-19, remained the same or even lower than expected compared with most other countries. Again, this reflected the benefits of our COVID-19 response in reducing exposure to the virus and protecting our more vulnerable New Zealanders.
  • Sadly, during the Omicron outbreak we have seen an increase in the rate of deaths among people over 90 compared to pre-pandemic years. However, to put these numbers in context, the mortality rate in the 90+ group in the last few weeks is still lower than the average pre-pandemic peak mortality for this age group that we normally see during the winter months.
  • This measure provides a useful indication of the impact of COVID-19 on overall death rates but cannot by itself indicate how many people have died from COVID-19.


(WAH)

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